8 Ways Football Broadcasting in China is Different to the West
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Football broadcasting in China is a different animal to that in the West. Much like the social media networks, the broadcasting landscape is more advanced and far more unique than its Western counterparts. We look at 8 ways that it’s different:
Focus on Online
You can find almost every football league live online in China – whether it’s Eredivisie or J League. However, big leagues such as the Premier League and Bundesliga are dominating the big screens. For most of the Chinese football fans, they usually follow more than one league and one team. So, it’s more convenient to watch all the games they want online rather than on TV. Rapid development of mobile devices and high-speed internet access have helped grow this trend.
Sell on rights
China is known for its vast population and a lot of them are crazy about football. According to a survey, there were 350 million unique viewers of live Premier League games in 2014, or the equivalent of the US population.
Who doesn’t want a free meal? Before Super Sport took over, the previous TV rights holder in mainland China – Tiansheng – suffered a huge setback when they first introduced pay-to-view Premier League to the Chinese market. Although there have been over 3 million paid views of the PL last season, it is still a long long way for non-free football broadcasting in China. Free content is the current model, and it will take a while before the Chinese fan mindset changes to a stage where they are comfortable paying for content.
This season, Sina, Tencent and LETV had to pay nearly $20 million to get the Premier League rights from its holder Super Sports. This price is over ten times higher than last year. PPTV lost this battle and they turned to La Liga desperately. 5 seasons for €250 million is the largest football TV rights deal ever signed by a Chinese broadcaster. Meanwhile, Wanda Group and Alibaba are looking into opportunities to enter this attractive industry. One thing for sure is that we will see plenty more record-breaking deals in the near future.
CCTV5, China’s largest sports channels, is state-owned, meaning they have huge power and can compete against any competitor. This situation gave CCTV5 the ability to ignore the Premier League for such a long time. CCTV5 has a huge exposure for Chinese viewers, a reported 700 million unique viewers watched the NBA league last year, and this is its largest negotiating tool. This season, Premier League is back on CCTV5 for one game a week, at a fee much lower than what LETV or Tencent paid.
Overlap with Social
The football fans who tend to watch games online are also the ones who are extremely active online, especially on social media. On the Twitter-like social platform Sina Weibo, fans are more active on matchdays. They like to comment and forward everything related to the game they are watching.